Despite proposed budget cuts, IT modernization is a top priority for federal agencies. This is especially true as both the House and the Senate have recently passed The Modernizing Government Technology Act (MGT Act), which is expected to be signed into law soon.

The MGT Act calls for agencies to leave behind outdated legacy IT systems and embrace emerging technologies. Federal agencies can look forward to providing more efficient systems that will help save taxpayer dollars in the long-run and better safeguard systems from cyber attacks.

While the need to modernize agency IT systems is certain, it’s critical that both government and the private sector understand what modernization truly means and how it can be achieved. A recent FCW article shares five considerations federal agencies and CIOs should think about to help achieve modernization objectives. A few of these are highlighted below.

First, it is important to realize that while modernization will be costly upfront, a big savings will be realized over time – some speculate up to $110 billion over ten years.

The MGT Act allows agencies to put money saved through IT efficiencies into working capital funds, which can be accessed for up to three years, to fund IT modernization. It will also create a centralized fund that agencies can access for their efforts to modernize their technology.

To realize these savings, agencies should begin with a self-assessment of their missions, critical systems, and current states before deciding on which hardware and software, or cloud platform, to invest in. Agencies can then develop a strategic plan that incorporates the right IT investment to help them reach their objectives.

It’s also important to realize that the path to modernization may differ from one agency to another.

For example, three agencies may choose cloud “as a service” technologies as their means to modernization. The first agency may decide to outsource their software and infrastructure, the second may only outsource security, and the third may implement a more traditional approach in which everything is moved to the cloud.

There is no right or wrong approach, just as long as it is tied into the overall strategic plan to meet modernization objectives.

User experience should also be considered when modernizing IT. While savings and security are important, if an application is not user-friendly, or results in the loss of critical applications, then the savings can quickly turn into added costs. Agencies and CIOs should take the needs of the users “into account when planning and implementing their modernization strategy to encourage user acceptance and adoption.”

In addition, a couple of considerations not mentioned in the article is for agencies and CIOs to ask themselves the following as they go through the modernization route:

How will the implementation of this new technology improve productivity?

Can employees communicate more efficiently and do their jobs better as a result of the new technology in place?

These are important questions to answer, especially as more and more employees telecommute to help save costs.

For instance, implementing a video teleconferencing package can make or break productivity. If employees have to jump through hoops to connect for a face-to-face chat when an in-person meeting is not feasible, or they routinely experience poor connection issues, then user adoption will diminish.

Not only does this lead to user frustration, but it also results in communication inefficiencies, which lowers productivity, and contributes to the staggering $37 billion wasted each year on unproductive meetings!

By having a secure, reliable, and easy to use video conferencing platform in place, agencies can avoid this scenario as employees will be more inclined to use the platform.

With the passage of the MGT Act on the horizon, agencies that replace antiquated technologies will be able to help save taxpayer dollars, and better safeguard systems from a cyber attack.

The key to realizing these benefits is to ensure the systems chosen and the approach to implementing these platforms ties into the strategic plan. And the user experience, along with how these technologies can be leveraged to enhance productivity should also be considered. Otherwise, employees may not use the technologies, which will create the antithesis of what the MGT Act is designed to do.